Poor or non-existent process formalization has resulted in more than 80 percent of information technology organizations (ITOs) experiencing IT operational issues, says META Group, a leading provider of IT research, advisory services and strategic consulting.

Well-defined processes enable strong management and execution on the part of IT operations groups, as well as line-of-business participation in the request and maintenance of IT assets. However, although every ITO group has some procedural-level documentation (e.g., a service request form) and tool automation, META Group finds that fewer than 10 percent of IT operational groups have their IT processes defined beyond simple process names or high-level process tasks. 

"Through 2008, IT operations groups seeking to effectively develop and enhance their operational processes will formalize their efforts, focusing on process definitions, performance measurement, and analysis of potential refinements," said Dan Vogel, senior vice president of META Group's Operations Strategies service. "Although most IT operations groups' efforts are still in their infancy, many of these groups are turning to META Group to learn how to leverage process-refinement practices and ultimately create a culture that embraces continual improvement."

Numerous frameworks for process, governance and quality currently are used within the IT community at varying levels, with each methodology or framework having particular benefits and weaknesses associated with it. META Group has identified 16 core IT operational processes, with 21 related subprocesses, as well as numerous process-use scenarios. In addition to these processes, the most commonly used frameworks/methodologies in the Global 2000 include  IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which commonly focuses on 11 service delivery and support processes;  Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), which identifies four primary domains, with 318 associated control points for measuring process compliance;  The Project Management Institute, which has a project management framework; and  Six Sigma, which identifies a process-refinement pattern (i.e., define, measure, analyze, improve, and control) to minimize output defects.

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